Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday writing: Georges Polti's dramatic situation of vengeance of a crime


Following my other two topics on Georges Polti's dramatic situations above, I am continuing with the third situation, vengeance of a crime.

Vengeance of a crime by itself is far more explanatory than the other two topics were.  The two elements of this situation are the Avenger and the Criminal.  Both elements are almost always actual people.  In fact, I don't actually think it could be possible for them to be anything (i.e. a force of nature).  I think that would change the situation.  The Criminal and Avenger could, however, be multiple people.  For instance, the Criminal could be a whole gang of people or perhaps an entire race.  The Avenger is typically one person, but the it could also be a team of people (as depicted in, of course, the movie The Avengers).

Basically, as you might gather, this situation involves the Avenger exacting vengeance on the Criminal for his crimes.  The premise is a simple one, but there are many variations on it.  The Avenger may be avenging himself or someone else.  For example, the Criminal may have killed the Avenger's wife, so the Avenger seeks vengeance on behalf of his wife.  The Criminal may have accused the Avenger falsely, so the Avenger seeks vengeance on his own behalf.  Even further, the Avenger may simply despise a type of crime such as murder and takes vengeance on anyone who has committed the offending crime even if it did not directly affect the Avenger.  The crime may be real or imagined.  For instance, the Avenger may exact vengeance on all women simply because he believes they are all unfaithful due to his own lover being unfaithful.  For this reason, the Avenger is not always a hero or even a good person.

Revenge and vengeance is about satisfaction, not justice.  We are often drawn to stories of vengeance because we have a strong desire for criminals to not only be caught and locked away but to truly pay for what they did.  For the more terrible crimes, we are often not satisfied with simply putting them in jail or even giving them the death penalty.  Such stories of vengeance appeal to us because it gives us that feeling of satisfaction, of knowing that a criminal was not only caught but received a fitting punishment.

However, as I mentioned, the Avenger is not always correct or even a good person, but a good author will make you sympathize with his actions and ideals even if you would normally not accept them.  A good author will make you believe that the Avenger truly believes in what he is doing, and as such, you will find yourself wanting him to succeed and might even feel satisfied with the outcome despite your true beliefs.  Fiction is very twisted in that sense!  These sorts of stories are usually the "gothic" ones, dark and violent and disturbing.  They remain popular even today, but I would caution any writers when trying to write a story of vengeance with an Avenger who is not quite right in the head and is imagining or exaggerating crimes in order to justify his vengeance.  It must be handled delicately and skillfully.  It truly does take a skilled writer to pull off a good story with this type of Avenger.

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